In August I created a Meetup group out of sheer inquisitiveness really. I have been interested in Iran for several years now, having written my undergraduate dissertation on Iranian Foreign Policy. I realised that Iran was probably the thing that differentiated me from most people. It has become my hobby, much in the same way that some people play chess, or guitar, or enjoy rock climbing. So I have decided to really embrace it.
The response to my creation of this Meetup group has been fantastic. Without promoting it at all outside the Meetup platform, the group has grown to 26 members. Many of them are of Iranian descent, but some like myself have no connection at all.
We held our first Meetup this evening in a bar in Shoreditch. Fairly nervous about the potential turnout, my fears were not assuaged by that fact that half an hour after the start time no members had arrived. Stood at the bar, suddenly fellow “Iranophiles” (a term that I now am embarrassed for having brought upon the world, but it works) began to arrive.
I haven’t asked the guests if I can write about them on this blog, so I shan’t describe anyone in detail, but I was really pleased with the people that came. Shoreditch is not central by any stretch yet one woman, an engineer who emigrated from Iran to Canada when she was 13 and who moved to London recently, came all the way from Charlton. Another, a photographer who had been travelling in Iran several times had come right across London from West Ealing. The enthusiasm for the group and for meeting people who share an interest in Iran was something that was in a way quite inspiring.
We chatted for a couple of hours and everyone expressed a sincere interest to hold further Meetups. The idea of a “Farsi only” dinner was bounded around extensively, which should only put pressure on me to work harder at my SOAS classes.
The event really gave me confidence that there is real value in my further pursuing this interest in Iran that I have been cultivating, and only made me more excited about getting over there at some point in 2015.